Read on to know if it is safe to consume milk even after crossing the expiration date!
Milk packets can be labeled differently to state their expiration date, which varies from “best before”, “sell by”, or “use by”. Sadly, none of these labels indicate the safest period of consuming this perishable food product.
Most of the commercially sold milk packs contain pasteurized milk that helps to destroy potentially harmful bacteria and extend the shelf life of milk by 2 to 3 weeks. However, pasteurization does not ensure complete safety of milk as it cannot kill all the milk bacteria as some of these bacteria continue to grow and then eventually spoil the milk.
By storing the milk at low temperatures, ranging from 4 degrees Celsius to 6 degrees Celsius, one can increase the shelf life of milk by 9 days. This means, that if unopened milk is stored at correct temperatures then it stays good for consumption even for 5 to 7 days post its “use by” date. It is also important to never leave milk for more than 2 hours at room temperatures to prevent it from spoiling.
For unrefrigerated milk which is UHT (ultra-heat treatment) pasteurized, it is safe to store them at room temperature and one can consume it even after 2 to 4 weeks past its “use by” date. This holds true, only if the milk package remained unopened and the pack is stored at correct temperatures and in the right conditions.
Instead of depending on the “use by” date to judge the milk safety, it is best to use your senses to check if the milk is safe for consumption. Smell the milk to see if it has a distinct sour odor, which is reflective of the production of lactic acid from the milk spoiling bacteria. A change in color of the milk to light yellow or a lumpy texture also indicates milk spoilage.